The CableLabs Summer Conference took place last week at its usual location in Keystone, Colorado. There were a few themes and some observations that came out of the conference, and they will have a bearing on the how the industry shapes itself and succeeds in the future:
Industry Consolidation Shouldn’t Affect Innovation
As result of consolidation in the industry, this year’s event was smaller than in years past, but it was still very productive in terms of networking and discussing industry trends.
The industry continues to push the innovation agenda; leveraging Wi-Fi assets for their expansion into mobility; content delivery partnerships with Netflix; and cable serving as the backbone for the Internet of everything. Balan Nair, CTO of Liberty Global was quick to point out that the cable companies need to get better at working with vendors to develop standards that support innovation and don’t require vendors to build custom solutions for each cable operator.
Cable as the Backbone of the “Near Future”
Gartner says there will be 8.4 billion connected "things" in use this year, up 31 percent from just 2016. At CableLabs, this was underscored by a large emphasis on connected healthcare and the Internet of Everything. As connectivity becomes a basic human need, it’s clear that the connected home is becoming a mission-critical environment, allowing us to remotely access and control temperatures, lights, security systems, sprinklers and so much more. CableLabs put a lot of emphasis this year on the “Near Future” and how new IoT innovations are making aging healthfully and independently more of a reality than even before. Not only can it help eliminate the isolation so many fear, but patients can return home faster if healthcare physicians can monitor vitals and compliance from afar, as well as provide virtual checkups to reduce overall medical costs and hospital readmissions. But it’s the healthiest individuals who in some ways are leading the way with activity and sleep monitors, smart scales, stress indicators and more all connecting to the cloud and saving and comparing data to help improve our overall health.
With all these wireless devices (not to mention the billions of smartphones and tablets connecting) requiring connectivity, it’s obvious that Wi-Fi will carry the majority of Internet traffic, and it’s clear that necessary connectivity will come from cable. Without cable bringing that connectivity into the home, none of these advancements in IoT would be possible. Statistics estimate that cable provides the Internet for almost 60 million households in the United States, which accounts for roughly half of all homes, so its footprint it huge.
Bandwidth Aggregation as Backup for Cable
But as the home becomes this mission-critical environment for our security, our health, comfort and convenience, it’s clear that for it all to work as promised, it must not only have connectivity, but it must also have backup. What happens to the transmission of your wireless health device or your security cameras if your cable goes out temporarily? For it all to work, the devices must have a constant, secure and continuous wireless connection to the cloud, and that’s where Carnegie’s Bandwidth Aggregation comes in – making sure devices have access to the best, most reliable and most cost-efficient network available at any given time with the ability to move between networks seamlessly without a loss in connection.
With so much “cord cutting,” Wi-Fi is undoubtedly a strong retention factor for cable companies. While customers may be willing to forego scheduled television programming, they’re completely unwilling to go without Wi-Fi connectivity – for both themselves and their connected devices. With 8 billion devices currently in use and Comcast predicting that number to climb to 20 billion by 2021, cable companies will need to make that transition between available networks a priority. Fortunately Carnegie is delivering that ability to the cable industry with some very basic software in its Network Convergence Platform, helping cable companies to deliver on the promise of the near future today.
We’ll look to the industry for further standardization, and we’re as excited as everyone to see the advancements that make our lives healthier, more productive and more fun.